A welcome addition to this sui generis series, always fresh thanks to its vividly imagined characters firmly grounded in...

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MISS KOPP JUST WON'T QUIT

From the Kopp Sisters series , Vol. 4

Stewart’s intrepid deputy sheriff is back (Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, 2017, etc.), this time enmeshed in a 1916 local election with uncomfortable contemporary resonance.

Sheriff Heath, Constance Kopp’s liberal-minded mentor and defender at the Hackensack County Jail, is reluctantly running for Congress because he’s term-limited by New Jersey law. Odious John Courter, running to succeed Heath, attacks his record at every opportunity, including most particularly the “Troublesome Lady Policeman Who Frees Lunatics from Asylum.” The “lunatic” is Anna Kayser, committed by her husband for the fourth time on what seem to Deputy Kopp very flimsy grounds. Indeed, she soon learns that Mr. Kayser has his wife put away every time he wants to play house with a new girlfriend. Constance gets Anna a lawyer, one of the many feisty women with whom Stewart’s unabashedly feminist series is populated, and justice might even triumph in this case. The main plot concerns the increasingly ugly election, and Constance probably won’t be the only one who flinches when Sheriff Heath optimistically tells her, “A man who does nothing but cast out hate and blame couldn’t possibly be elected to office.” As before, Stewart bases much of the story on actual events (carefully documented in endnotes), with generous fictional embroidery to elaborate the stories of Constance’s Popular Science–loving sister, Norma, currently working to convince the Army it needs carrier pigeons, and their putative baby sister (actually Constance’s illegitimate daughter), Fleurette, who has aspirations as a performer but at the moment is a seamstress for a Fort Lee movie studio. The looming threat of World War I adds to the dark tone, but the military training camp at Plattsburg offers all three Kopp women a fresh start after the dispiriting election results. Constance may just have turned 40, but this tough-minded, generous-hearted believer in second chances and equal rights for women looks set for many more adventures.

A welcome addition to this sui generis series, always fresh thanks to its vividly imagined characters firmly grounded in historical fact.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-73651-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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